It’s A Family Affair!

May 2013 by Sharon Dillard

Green_horizontal_logoAs you may or may not know, Get A Grip is a family owned and operated national franchise business. Our experience over the years is that running a successful family business means recognizing the individual strengths and weaknesses of our family members, as well as making sure everyone is providing input into day-to-day activities. Most importantly, a family business has the best chance of succeeding when each member truly believes in the product or service.

Working well together means everyone pulling together for the right reasons: for the good of the family, for the employees and for long-term growth. When a family business works well, you can’t beat it.

Here are a few suggestions for businesses where family members work together.

Set boundaries. It can be easy for family members to talk shop 24/7. Mixing business and personal issues during non-business hours could eventually produce problems, both at home and on the job. Limit business discussions outside the office when possible. It’s not always possible and when it’s not, try to save them for an appropriate time.

Establish clear and regular methods of communication. Problems and differences of opinion are inevitable, especially because family members often feel more free to voice their views. Consider weekly office meetings to assess progress, air any differences of viewpoint and resolve disputes.

Respect one another. This is one of the more important things that anyone can do, in any business. Share only your experience, strengths and hopes with one another. Try to keep negative comments to yourself and respect each others’ opinions.

Divide roles and responsibilities. While several family members may be qualified for similar tasks, duties should be divvied up clearly. This avoids conflicts and favoritism. Big, strategic decisions can be made together, but a debate over each little tactical move will bog an agile business down.

Treat it like a business. A common pitfall in a family business is placing too much emphasis on “family” and not enough on “business.” Finding ways to separate the facts from the feelings characterizes a healthy business. But this may not always be compatible with family harmony, so be ready to face those situations when they arise.

Seek outside advice. The decision-making process for growing a family business can sometimes be too closed. Fresh ideas and creative thinking can get lost in the tangled web of family relationships and expectations. Seek guidance and direction from outside advisors who are not affiliated with any family members. That’s a good way to give the business a reality check.

Require outside experience first. If your children will be joining the business, make sure they get a least three to four years business experience elsewhere first, preferably in an unrelated industry. This will give them invaluable perspective on how the business world works outside of a family setting.

It’s hard enough launching or running a company without added pitfalls and potential baggage of family relationships. But family businesses have some great advantages over others – mainly a dedicated pool of people ready to stand behind your efforts. If yours is a family business, you need to take extra steps to avoid burnout, ensure on-the-job harmony and attract advice from business experts outside the family circle. Just sayin’.

Published: Apartment News Magazine – May/June issue 2013

Sharon Dillard is the award-winning CEO of Get A Grip Inc., a national franchise kitchen and bathroom resurfacing company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

One Response to “It’s A Family Affair!”

  1. May 03, 2013 at 7:50 am, John D. said:

    Great article. I have seen family businesses that could REALLY use this information. It’s a shame to watch them struggle when you know the things that could help them soar. But, typically they won’t listen because they have always done it the way they are doing it. They just can’t see the pit they have dug for themselves. But, reading it on a blog from someone they don’t know, they will actually put more credibility in that article then from someone they know. Glad your putting this out there!


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